I have had an on and off again relationship with the group Yes.
Some Yes I totally dug, I had the triple “YesSongs” album at some point in my high school days. I generally went for the live album of a group I was interested in getting into. There was some really good stuff on there, but I could do without the organ and extended keyboard solo’s. There is no doubt that Rick Wakeman is talented, but I wasn’t in the right place for that. I was into mainstream rock and didn’t have the maturity for Prog rock.
I did get a Jon Anderson solo album that changed my life. “Jon Anderson – Olias Of Sunhillow”.
I also bought the cut out Yes album “Tormato”.
I never reached the point where I needed more and more Yes. What I had sufficed.
Years later I got overwhelmed with Yes in the dorms (the stoners and the pretentious both loved Yes, for different reasons of course) and the rock radio was happy to dust off the old stuff to play along with the new. It was the year “Yes – 90125” was released and it caused a big resurgence of the Yes crowd.
In the days when I was staying in Brown Deer with my mom, I recall a Yes concert on MTV. They were wearing white outfits and playing like robots (amazingly talented and technically proficient, but cold) and there was a real future world to the concert and whether it was just my perception or not, it turned me off. I stopped thinking about Yes.
Recently, when starting to buy vinyl again, I re-bought “Tormato”. It was good. I liked it as much as I liked it back in the day. I had the feeling all of a sudden that I wanted to start getting them all. I found 90215 and bought that one. It was good too! I stopped myself however and made myself understand that 90% of my desire was to have the cool covers. So as a test I also bought “The Yes Album”. Possibly the worst cover in the “Yes” catalog. Though “90125” is not much of a stunner either. Problem was, I liked it.
Sensing that I needed to confront this sudden reprieve of the band, I asked Dalton to share his Yes collection with me. I suddenly had the entire Yes history to listen to. Go for it I told myself. You’ll soon come to your senses.
I went to the Yes Wikipedia page and immersed myself with the history of Yes and the myriad lineup changes and squabbles and people leaving and rejoining… it’s pretty complex. There was a Yes album without Jon Anderson, and then he rejoined. Interesting. I had heard most of the old stuff, the really new stuff I was afraid of a bit since they had put out like 8 albums I had never even heard of before and I was afraid since I never even heard of them that they were perhaps forgettable.
So, faced with every Yes album, I picked one that I had seen back in the day but never listened to, the first without a cool Roger Dean cover, “Going For The One” (released in 1977 just before “Tormato”)
and fired it up in my headphones. This one was after the “old stuff” and before the “new” stuff I never heard of before. It seemed as good a place to start as any.
The first thing I heard was the awesome guitar riff of the song “Going For The One” which was a bit of a surprise. Then Jon started singing and although about half of the lyrics I couldn’t understand, I couldn’t help but like it. I ended up not sleeping but hanging on every note of this album. There are some very slow songs, and some over the top keyboard parts of course, but as a whole it blew me away. I loved it.
I tried it again the next night to make sure I wasn’t kidding myself. I wasn’t. I still loved it.
As it so happens, a few days later I woke up ill and decided to stay home.
I got up, e-mailed work, moved a meeting and then curled up on the couch by the open window, medicated, and put my headphones on and tuned out to “Yes – Going For The One”. I thought it was about 9 when I woke up there and moved to the bed. “Going For The One” was over. I picked another Yes album I had loaded onto my phone and flopped down. The album was “Tales From Topographical Oceans”.
It was the weirdest thing. I woke up later and the album was still going. I listened for a little while and then faded out again, then woke up later and the album was still going. I remember thinking that I thought I had been sleeping longer than an album. My mind couldn’t put all the pieces together. I was like in a time warp. When I woke up even later on it was STILL going. It was very disorienting. Turns out that the album is a double, and to boot there are bonus tracks that are studio run-throughs. It actually IS very long. I’m sure the songs repeated helped make the deja vu and time warp seem stronger than it actually was, but it was so odd.
The music of the album is perfect for sleeping to. I don’t mean that in a derogatory way. It built up slowly, tempo changes are not too jarring and the sound was very smooth throughout. It was probably the most perfect thing I could have chosen to listen to that day.
If I see “Going For The One” in the vinyl discount bins I may have to get that one.
I’m not so sure “Tales From Topographical Oceans” would be as soothing as it was during my sick coma/time slip if I had to get up 3 times to flip the record.
I might stick with my MP3’s and only take Yes medicinally.